Saturday, May 24, 2008


Poverty in India is ever-present and pervasive. There is no place left untouched by its hands. Driving down the road, the same pattern repeats over and over again. This tessellation is something like children, cows, mangos/bananas, men, trucks, debris, dogs, men, bikes, rickshaws, dirt, women in colorful saris, children, cows...

Stopping at any monument causes our group to be swarmed by trinket salesmen, hungry children, and professional beggars. Poverty is a problem without an immediate solution. For every person from a developed country that says we should just give food to the poor, there’s another that says they should build themselves up by starting their own businesses. While I am generally a member of the latter generalization, I cannot believe the number of small businesses that already exist. We visited a market in Delhi where there were entire streets with 20 stores all dedicated to one good. Examples include wedding supplies, paper, and saris – each one had a street of its own, and for each good there were 10s of tiny shops that all had the same products.

The main roads are lined with small businesses, there are millions of individual hawkers, and there are thousands of shops for the same goods. The large populations of India and China put constraints on any traditional strategy for development. It will be very interesting to see how (if?) there will be enough resources to provide for these teeming masses.


Britt said...

I did a little research on poverty so your readers could look at a few facts. None of what is below are my own words so you guys can check out the websites listed if you want more info. The poverty in India is not something you should just dismiss because it's "not your problem". What is happening elsewhere in the world affects the U.S. directly and/or indirectly. Oh, and if there are any type-os I apologize.

Synopsis by IndiaOneStop.Com

I. Even more than 50 years after independence from almost two centuries of British rule, large scale poverty remains the most shameful blot on the face of India.

II. India still has the world’s largest number of poor people in a single country. Of its nearly 1 billion inhabitants, an estimated 350-400 million are below the poverty line, 75 per cent of them in the rural areas.

III. More than 40 per cent of the population is illiterate, with women, tribal and scheduled castes particularly affected.

IV. It would be incorrect to say that all poverty reduction programmes have failed. The growth of the middle class (which was virtually non-existent when India became a free nation in August 1947) indicates that economic prosperity has indeed been very impressive in India, but the DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH has been very uneven.

V. The main causes of poverty are illiteracy, a population growth rate by far exceeding the economic growth rate for the better part of the past 50 years, protectionist policies pursued since 1947 to 1991 which prevented large amounts of foreign investment in the country.

VI. Poverty alleviation is expected to make better progress in the next 50 years than in the past, as a trickle-down effect of the growing middle class. Increasing stress on education, reservation of seats in government jobs and the increasing empowerment of women and the economically weaker sections of society, are also expected to contribute to the alleviation of poverty.

VII. Eradication of poverty can only be a very long-term goal in India.

One of the major problems with poverty alleviation programs is their implementation. Rajiv Gandhi once said that out of 100 paisa allocated for poor only 14 paisa reaches them. But in spite of their weaknesses, poverty alleviated program can be credited for their success in alleviating poverty to an extent. Greater public-private partnership and committed and efficient bureaucratic machinery is required to tackle poverty.


Britt said...

Oh and I forgot to add something Benito. Mom has been pretty worried about you. All of the protests going on and such. I hope all of you are taking the safety precautions necessary so we can see your lovely faces once again.

I love you Benito